Trump Administration Calls on Russia to Leave Crimea

U.S.

The Trump administration has called on Russia to remove forces from Crimea, a peninsula in southeastern Ukraine, that was annexed by Russia in 2014. The statement was made yesterday by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“Russia, through its 2014 invasion of Ukraine and its attempted annexation of Crimea, sought to undermine a bedrock international principle shared by democratic states: that no country can change the borders of another by force,” his statement read.

“In concert with allies, partners, and the international community, the United States rejects Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea and pledges to maintain this policy until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is restored.”

Russia annexed the peninsula after a pro-Russian government was overthrown by a popular uprising in 2014 in favor of a pro-Western one. The region has military significance for Russia as the Crimean port of Sevastopol allows the Russian navy access to the Mediterranean Sea.

Pompeo called on Russia to end what he called its occupation of the peninsula.

“The United States calls on Russia to respect the principles to which it has long claimed to adhere and to end its occupation of Crimea. As democratic states seek to build a free, just, and prosperous world, we must uphold our commitment to the international principle of sovereign equality and respect the territorial integrity of other states. Through its actions, Russia has acted in a manner unworthy of a great nation and has chosen to isolate itself from the international community,” Pompeo’s statement read.

Russia held a referendum in 2014 ostensibly to let Crimeans show their favor toward becoming a part of Russia. Although the peninsula is home to a large ethnic Russian population – 58% of Crimeans are Russians – the integrity of the referendum was called into question by the West. Some 95.5% of Crimeans voted to become part of Russia according to the results.

The issue of Ukraine made headlines last week in the wake of the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin revealed after the summit that he offered to hold referendums in additional regions in Ukraine on the question of secession. Two eastern Ukrainian regions, Donetsk and Luhansk, held referendums in May 2014 and declared independence from Ukraine. The referendums were recognized by Russia but were not recognized by Ukraine, the U.S. or the European Union.

President Putin said Mr. Trump asked him not to make the offer public so that he may consider it. The White House did not have any comment.

Late last week, the Pentagon announced it had granted Ukraine $200 million in security funds. The payment brought the total amount of aid paid to the country since 2014 to more than $1 billion.

The funds are to be used for additional training, equipment and advisory efforts that will bolster the capacity of Ukraine’s security forces. Specifically, the funds will provide defensive equipment and operational needs which will enhance Ukraine’s secure communications, military mobility, night vision and military medical treatment.

The Ukrainian government recently adopted the Law on National Security, which provides a framework aligning Ukraine’s nation security infrastructure with Euro-Atlantic principles. The adoption constitutes a major step toward NATO ascension.

Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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